Thomas Hawkins

This conversation is closed.

When does a conversation become worth while?

I want to know when a conversation is worth while? Is every conversation worth having? Are we just venting or gaining something? Perhaps a little of both, but are they both just as important?

Closing Statement from Thomas Hawkins

It seems for the most part that the majority of people determine the worth of a conversation by satisfying selfish and/or mutual group needs. A follow up question would be, do we think about satisfying these needs before entering a conversation? I don’t think that we do on a social playing field, gossip, etc; therefore, it is fair to say that for the majority not all conversations are worth having. Worth while conversations are those where we are able satisfy/solve our needs/questions. Therefore, this must require some premeditative thought, to an extent, depending on severity and consciousness of the individual’s needs and desires of the future conversation.

Although, I’d like to propose and entertain the idea that "all" conversations are worth while regardless of what novel you have written in your conversational speech. The answer lies in the opportunity. This latest conversational masterpiece and/or self-published disaster came into existence through an opportunity to have a conversation. Rather than looking at the end product, maybe we should think about the worth in the opportunity of invention and discovery. I am not denying that some conversations are more worth while than others, some are mundane and draining, good and bad, but I’d like to throw a stick in the spokes and stop the bike of “reward thinking”. It is worth while to debate, question and be curious toward even the most “unworthy” topics of choice. We may not even satisfy our own needs, but be there for another to talk with. A shoulder to cry on, if you will.

Is it possible to find reward without having won a race? Yes...

ps. Just a little note of thanks. Thank you for all your comments, really interesting points of view. I also must say sorry for being on the "down low" as of late. Busy days. All the best

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    Sep 15 2012: It is as important to listen as it is to say what is on our mind.
    Not every conversation is worth having; especially when things become heated and it seems to be turning to all talk and no listening.

    It is always important to make an effort to get to know another person, and there is no better way of knowing someone else than listening, understanding and asking questions.
    But if there is no effective communication because the other person is not keen; and if the intention to listen and understand is not mutual; then a conversation is not worthwhile.
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      Sep 15 2012: thanks Feyisayo.

      I understand what you mean, but would it be fair to say that perhaps when a conversation that ended in a heated dispute is a "bad" conversation. Maybe it was worth having to understand those heated feelings?

      We can have a variety of conversations each with a different destination; gaining knowledge, understanding, building rapport, expressing ideas, etc. The end product is often what determines the "worth" of the conversation, but without the performance the critic has no job. Therefore, I think that the "worth" should be determined on something else...

      I do like this "if the intention to listen and understand is not mutual; then a conversation is not worthwhile." It takes two to tango
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        Sep 15 2012: The end product really determines the worth. Even if it does not end well, at least we can confidently say that we tried our best to reach out.
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    . .

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    Sep 15 2012: When both sides approach it with an open heart and intention for the common good.
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    Sep 15 2012: In order for it to be worthwhile it has to be a conversation, by definition it has to be an exchange of ideas. There are a myriad of reasons that ideas are not exchanged and masquerade as a conversation or communication, for what ever reason the ideas are not exchanged qualifies it as something other than a conversation.

    A genuine conversation or communication is quite rare even here on TED. Mostly it is someone disseminating their ideas without regard to the the receiver of the communication. The reality is that most people do not really communicate with others and life which make them susceptible to manipulation.

    The sad thing is that this is mostly a self imposed sequestration by consideration.

    The essence of life is communication it is what allows one to learn, understand, enjoy, be happy, like, be motivated, survive, play, win, teach, motivate, and all the laudable things in life, not the least of which is to exchange.

    http://www.ted.com/talks/matt_ridley_when_ideas_have_sex.html
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      Sep 15 2012: hello Pat.

      a very well put together reply. thank you. I have two questions.

      can I ask what do you mean by "the sad thing is that this is mostly a self imposed sequestration by consideration"?

      Also, are you proposing that a conversation is worth while if it meets its definition?

      I very much like the end of your reply. thanks again
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        Sep 15 2012: Re the 1st Q, I mean people refuse to communicate because of provincial thinking or other considerations, whom ever they refuse to communicate with they have in effect sequestered themselves away from those people. The middle east is an example of this.

        The corollary of this is that you have to choose who you communicate with clearly you have to control this.

        Re the 2nd Q, yes
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        Sep 17 2012: emotions are a part of the communication.
  • Sep 17 2012: When both parties are engrossed in what they're talking about--when no one is alone in the talk.
    When I realize that the person I talk to is neither flattering nor criticizing me.
    When the conversation is memorable enough for you to remind you to keep in touch with him again.
    When the person you have comversation with doesn't rebuke you.--I have to confess I wasn't really obedient to my parents.I was a bit stubborn anyway. So, when I was a kid, Mom would scold me for many things. Mom said that we should talk, but I always knew that it was going to be a one-way talk, "You listen to me." lol
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      • Sep 19 2012: I'm flattered, thank you, Don :)
        Yes, she is, being ill, unfortunately. But I have to admit, despite the fact that she’s weak and fragile, her love is so strong. When she was young, she gave up her dreams and college degrees just to raise me and my siblings. I guess that was one of her ways to love me. I owe her.
        I couldn’t understand the things she tried to teach me when I was a kid.
        “Different culture, special ways of emotional loving!” You’re right.
        Even though technically, Mom and I haven't had any memorable conversations so far, I’ve learned so many things from her. She taught me in many ways, especially through her good deeds and dedication. "More than Words" indeed...I am so grateful that I have such a good mother.
        (I enjoyed the song, btw. It was real. Thanks :D )
        When I listen to this song, I can’t help thinking about Mom. Want to share it with you

        http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xXtVBJDPs6k&feature=endscreen&NR=1
        Send my love to you,
        Elizabeth
  • Sep 16 2012: I would say that there are two basic categories:

    1. The ones that makes you think. The ones that cause the thoughts in your mind whirl overnight and take away your sleep. And the ones that eventually cause a change of your perception, even the slightest one.

    2. The ones that give you the feeling of ease when you feel tense. The ones that come unexpectedly and put a smile on your face, when you didn't feel like smiling at all.
  • Sep 15 2012: Any time you enjoy it. Anytime you fell like having the conversation. Anytime you want it so. The conversation ca be the destination. The mere pleasure of writing, the mere pleasure of talking. The mere inclination to write, the mere inclination to talk.
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      Sep 15 2012: hello Gabo

      in that case, would the listener have to willing, or used as a piece of paper like a writer with a pen?
      • Sep 15 2012: Listener? I thought you meant conversation, not monologue.

        :-)
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          Sep 16 2012: I did indeed mean conversation, not monologue. So I guess then, how do we define conversation? Do all members have to be willing to talk and listen? Do all parties have to participate?

          By your definition Gabo, a conversation is worth while any time "you" enjoy it. Any time "you" want it, etc. Therefore, would it be fair to say that this is a monologue if we define a conversation as all members have to willing to also participate?

          interesting point... never thought of that
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    Gail .

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    Sep 15 2012: A conversation becomes worthwhile for me when one of us can learn something.
  • Sep 16 2012: Depending on what you want to get out of the conversation.

    If you are trying to learn from someone, and the conversation imparts knowledge to you, then yeah.
    If you are trying to troll someone, and got a good laugh out of that conversation, then yeah.
    If you want to befriend someone, and engendered feelings of friendship with that person, then yeah.

    Basically it depends on your objective, what you want to get out of that conversation, and the result of that conversation, if it met your objectives.
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      Sep 17 2012: Dear Jon Ho,
      For an "alien", (according to your profile) you certainly have good insight about us humans! LOL:>)

      I agree that what we want to get out of the conversation, and what we are willing to contribute to the conversation are important factors. Some folks are searching for good conversation and conversationalists, and maybe forgetting that it takes two or more participants to "create" a pleasurable, informative conversation that is equally appealing to all participants?
      • Sep 17 2012: Lady, when you hang around humans for 10,000 years trying to shape their technological future, you tend to pick up things here and there. Some of the things I picked up was that giving crystal technology to Atlantean scientists for their energy generation research was a big mistake; their bureaucrats and leaders wanted to create weapons to enslave the rest of the world. Fortunately, those scientists beautifully sacrificed their island, sinking it into the sea to prevent this from ever happening.

        Nowadays, crystal technology, especially quartz crystal is only used for generating electric signals with precise frequency to keep track of time, like wrist watches. If you humans ever knew the exothermic properties of crystal -producing more energy than it requires to start it and is therefore self-sustaining- well....

        Although, I find it very amusing that you humans harnessed the power of the stars -aka cold fusion- to create a device to keep track of time, mounted on your wrist. Why you humans regard mechanical watches like Rolex highly even though quartz crystal wristwatches are obviously superior is beyond me; I'm still trying to learn this very strange human concept.

        Well then, are we having a good, worthwhile conversation now or what? ;)
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          Sep 17 2012: Jon Ho....."are we having a good worthwhile conversation now or what?"

          Depends on what you want to get from it:>) I must tell you that I am technically challenged, so you are leaving me in the dust with your technical "stuff".

          This is what I can add....I haven't worn a watch for about 25 years, I think crystals are absolutely beautiful, and make lovely jewelery. How're we doing?
      • Sep 17 2012: Well I'm unable to reply your post, silly TED programmers...

        but... indeed, crystals are absolutely gorgeous! Back home in the Arcturus system, in front of my childhood home stood a tree that I carved my real name, that look exactly like this http://www.illuminatedgarden.com/mm5/graphics/00000001/288-250.jpg

        When my mission is over, if you wish, I will take you on my ship, the Prometheus, and I'll show you that crystal tree when it glows beautifully in the red afternoon sun.

        I think we're doing fine, conversation wise. ;)
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          Sep 17 2012: Jon Ho, you replied perfectly, even in spite of those human programmers:>)

          I believe Arcturus is the one I used to say this to when I was a child...
          "Star light, star bright, first star I see tonight". Arcturus is the brightest star in the northern sky....correct? Lovely place to live my friend:>)

          Lovely tree Jon Ho....thanks for sharing that:>)

          Perhaps I might join you on your ship when your mission is over....assuming MY mission is over as well. I would like to stop at the Pleiades...you are familier with the seven sisters star cluster? That was one of my more recent homes:>)

          It is interesting that your ship is named Prometheus (trickster)....is that relevant?
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          Sep 20 2012: Jon,
          think uve got room for one more onboard the Prometheus ??
      • Sep 19 2012: I'm not sure, Earth's astronomy is not my strong point heh. From where I came from, the night the sky burns orange so there isn't any star to see.

        There's a whole forest of that tree, and sometimes in the morning the forest looks like its on fire.

        Oh yes, Pleiades! And the intergalactic wars, horrible business that... I believe that's why we're all here, to prevent another planet's destruction. Unfortunately we are running out of time, so free will and self discovery be damned, I will actively accelerate human development even if Zeus punishes me with the eagle eating regenerating heart all over again. Been there, done that, it don't scare me none. ;)

        My ship is named Prometheus as in "The Teacher"; you know, bringing fire to mankind, introducing agriculture and writing, kick-starting the wheels of human technological development. There used to be other ships out there like Athena and Ares that protected earth for quite some time, as well as Asclepius who tried his hardest to repair the damage the Atlantean's did to this planet.

        All of them went back home except me and Athena but don't worry, she single-handedly took out whole armada's of intergalactic invaders and will do it again and again to ensure the protection of planet earth. Only problem now is it seems that you humans are now hell-bent on self destruction. :(

        Tell me friend Colleen, how is your meditation going?
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      Sep 17 2012: "If you are trying to troll someone, and got a good laugh out of that conversation, then yeah."

      Sup...
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        Sep 17 2012: Oh my goodness James...Jon Ho is a troll? I was sure he was an alien....that's what his profile says!
        LOL:>)

        Anyway, it was a fun little exchange, and I learned something because I looked up Arcturus and Prometheus....interesting little exploration, and I wasn't doing anything else significant at that moment, so it was entertaining.....hopefully for both of us:>) In my humble perception, it was worth while:>)
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          Sep 17 2012: You'd be surprised (or not surprised) how many trolls exist on the internet ;)
        • Sep 19 2012: Just because I have a green tint to my skin does not necessarily classify me as a troll; I could be an ogre like Shrek for example. You never know. ;)
  • Sep 16 2012: When the participants express their TRUE feelings and TRUE thoughts.....
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    Sep 15 2012: When it sparks hundreds of comments and arguments.
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    Sep 15 2012: Conversation is dependent on two factors the sender and the reciever. When either one of these is missing or becomes non involved the conversation is over. It would be wise to pick your conversations if possible. As an extreme example: a person of the Jewish faith to enter a Hitler Forever shop and expecting a good conversation would be VERY disappointed in the results.

    A conversation becomes woth while when a interest is generated and dialog is generated. I find some of the topics on TED very interesting and I learn a lot about some of the sciences talked about here. However, as I am very uninformed the expert must continually go back and explain why there is a problem or how we arrived here. This is a one sided conversation and most are quite polite but they must be bored to tears, a really good teacher, or on a ego trip and enjoy showing off.

    I likie TED because we all give and take and at the end of the day we have both listened and evaluated new ideas and concepts or at least approaches to a issue. That means that we have truely met the TED motto of an idea worth spreading.

    Have a great day. Bob.
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      Sep 16 2012: thanks Bob.

      Picking conversations.
      Without the obvious dark vs. light, nothing vs. everything, etc. How would you personally pick a conversation, Bob? I like this idea and I'd like to find out more.
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    Sep 15 2012: A conversation can be worthwhile for one person and not the others. So it is often less a matter of a conversation being valuable per se than that it satisfies or benefits one or more people involved in it. That person may have learned something even while others in the conversation were already familiar with the ideas expressed. Or some people measure the worth of a conversation by whether they got to say something they urgently wanted to say, which might include venting. Some people find a conversation worthwile if they feel they planted a seed that might grow as people think about it further. Others count a conversation worthwhile for them only if they turned people to their points of view or made their sale..
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    Sep 15 2012: Hi Thomas,
    To me, each and every conversation is worth while because they all offer the opportunity to learn. That being said, however, I also know how, when, and with whom I want to learn on a regular bases.

    Some people do indeed simply "vent" their anger, over and over again, and in my perception, that kind of conversation is not interesting. Some folks also have their own agenda, which they insist on continually presenting.....that also is not interesting for me. I have no desire to participate in the very same circular conversations while a person is always trying to prove him/herself "right", more knowledgeable, more insightful, superior, etc. To me, those types of conversations are important only in that they tell us a lot about that person, who cannot successfully "engage", but rather, is always trying to dominate.

    The very best conversations in my perception, are those in which both, or all participants are open minded, open hearted, and genuinely interested in engaging and exploring ideas worth sharing:>)
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      Sep 15 2012: hello Colleen. thanks for a well drawn reply

      I agree that the best conversations are those where all the participants are open minded, etc, makes for an interesting filed of play, for sure.

      May I ask, if every conversation is an worth while because they all offer the opportunity to learn, is the "worth" in the learning or the opportunity?
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        Sep 15 2012: My pleasure Thomas:>)

        I perceive EVERYTHING to be interconnected, so I say the possibility of "worth" is both in the opportunity and the learning. It would depend on the perception of the individual, don't you think?

        We cannot say what the "worth" is to someone else, we can only know what we perceive to be of value for ourselves. We could, as individuals, be totally excited about an interaction and perceive it to be absolutely, wonderfully insightful and informative, while another person gets nothing from the interaction...yes?
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          Sep 16 2012: Yes, i do think so. Precisely why I posted this question in fact.

          The fact that a conversation is, in my belief, where two or more people communicate reciprocally, the idea of value is hard to determine for each individual as one person may take more from any one conversation than the other(s). However, like you pointed out earlier Colleen, the opportunity to learn or take from the conversation was a level playing field for all. Therefore, I thought that perhaps the "worth" would be in the opportunity or even in the ability to talk to another.

          You also said that, and quite rightly so, the connections between all these factors are value markers. Therefore determining any "one" value is difficult for us all
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        Sep 17 2012: Hi again Thomas,
        I agree that the opportunity CAN be a "level playing field for all", if all participants perceive it in that light. As others have mentioned on this thread, people have different objectives....different agendas and intent, so everyone may not see the opportunity as a "level playing field".

        I have encountered a person here on TED who thinks s/he is superior to everyone else,
        and calls him/herself a "winner", when they perceive the conversation going as s/he would like. That is their own perception, and if that helps that person feel content about the interaction, so be it.

        I believe TED conversations are about sharing ideas, so I do not perceive "winners" and "losers" in conversations. I like participating with people who perceive this forum as a "level playing field" on which we all share ideas worth spreading:>) That's my personal intent and objective, and I believe it is the objective of most people participating in this forum.

        Again....I don't believe we can determine the value for other individuals. That seems to be information we all determine for ourselves?
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    Sep 15 2012: I like this Q

    Both until both agree to disagree unless one is a soldier and cannot let it go,otherwise we all walk away with a little of something new whether we want to or not.

    Good Q,Damn good Q.

    I had a conversation with one of my people who was fairly jumping up and down with unbridled pride at a gathering of my peoples chiefs and representatives,this has happened before but not like this,never in our short history have we gathered as one for one purpose,even i was feeling a sense of pride and for just a short time we were in sync until i was asked my thoughts on the events,sometimes it's better to walk away when too emotionally invested.
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      Sep 15 2012: thanks Ken.

      we all walk away with a little of something new whether we want to or not is precisely my trail of thought.
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      Sep 17 2012: Ken and Thomas,
      I agree that we all walk away with something from each and every interaction.....IF.....we are open to that possibility?

      As you insightfully say Ken, there are people who "cannot let it go", and become emotionally involved. I think it's beneficial to share emotion in all conversations. Do you think/feel there can be too much of an emotional investment? I think so....that is when some folks are convinced they are "right" and want to be a "winner". Their emotional investment seems to dominate the interaction, to the point of actually losing touch with what the conversation is actually about. That is not enjoyable.
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        Sep 17 2012: Yes your right Colleen.

        My little example showed me that even myself can let emotion rule when it comes to something that i feel is important within my localized area plus the fact that well, get a bunch of my people together and we start talking internal politics and then i insert my opinion and Whamo! i usually get ostracized.

        My people in the 1800's installed a king to rival Victoria and to try to bind the rest of us together,it is a new system rather than a tradition but my peoples collective thinking is still stuck in the early 20th century,they still believe that the kingship works and when it comes to bloodlines,it can start wars that can take years to resolve,amongst my people bloodlines is power,my simple stance,get rid of the kingship before the British do.When i come across some of my people they usually worship their bloodlines like it's God,i try to bring them back to reality that their are no 100% native born anymore and that they can't say they don't have slave blood in their lines,it's an insult but one that can't be disproved either,we're still getting over a "Them and Us" attitude.
  • Sep 21 2012: a conversation is worth while when we are in rapport with each other. and sharing information that we both share the interest.

    I can't spend my time listening to someone who is talking about science fiction, Computer games, gun, is it worth having those kind of conversations where I don't have interest in? NO!
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    Sep 19 2012: It depends upon us. We can find some good points from each conversation and sometime we also finds many conversation as waste. It also depends upon the people involved and also the intentions and seriousness of the involved people about the issue.
    But if everyone reach out the issue with the positive attitude and do not take that conversation as a time pass then it doesn't matter what he/she write but whatever it may be if written seriously then it will definitely make the conversation worth while.
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      Sep 16 2012: Don you know all about difficult conversations. Been posting on another conversation, now closed, about something really important. Very worried about situation in Middle East (actually live U.K, at the moment). Still remember 'duck and cover' T.V. ads from 1970s about what to do if Nuclear war broke out between U.S.A. and U.S.S.R. Very worried about the weather. Got accused of p. word meaning trying to force own ideas on someone else using rhetoric. Look on my profile (now updated) and tell me where I am making mistakes. Already said don't like 2000 character limit because sometimes complex ideas need more space. Plus said difficult to convey emotions unless really good at grammar and am sloppy with punctuation. Plus vocabulary changing. Did you know to troll means 'be nasty' can only reference troll under bridge in children's nursery tale. Don, realise ultimately, whatever will be will be but would really appreciate some guidance about this cos do still want to talk via TED.
      • Sep 17 2012: """don't like 2000 character limit because sometimes complex ideas need more space""""

        Fascinating. Did you know one of the most complex ideas in the world is summed up in 5 characters?

        E=mc²

        Nothing gets more complex that that. ;)
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          Sep 17 2012: Thought of own recently C=EIIR2=C. Suggest in this instance C is creative conversation, EiiR2 is active, energetic debate between two people and other C is community environment, which in this case is TED. Learning icons so:D. Thanks :). Love to chat to like minded souls.
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      Sep 16 2012: Hello Don.

      "So in a general sense the answer is, when the transactions are completed and meet everyone's individual needs." Just like to confirm that your belief is when ALL participants in the conversation needs are satisfied? It's just you also said we may need to tell each other things, in your example, telling each other we are "ok" or "not ok". In this case, would you consider the conversation beneficial if less than all the participants satisfied this need?

      best to you, too!
  • Sep 16 2012: If they care about it . Or if they could benifit.
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    Sep 15 2012: Any conversation is worth while when one learns something new - even if that knowledge is good or bad - knowledge is always beneficial.

    Also, yes, just saying your thoughts or writing them down allows you to get rid of them in a sense of reanalyzing them.
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    Sep 15 2012: You won't know when a conversation is really worthwhile until you've experienced one that you deem is not worthwhile, and in that respect, you can argue that even the un-worthwhile one is worthwhile because it showed you what a worthwhile one is not.

    Perhaps a conversation that isn't worthwhile is not having a conversation at all.
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    Sep 15 2012: maybe i should say something to you japanese! the diaoyu island belongs to china .nothing can change
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      Sep 15 2012: my apologises for being curt Chen, but perhaps japanese would be best... clearly you miss understood the content of the question. this is clearly an issue you feel strongly toward, but you are directing your efforts in the wrong direction....

      perhaps this conversation would be worth while elsewhere
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        Sep 15 2012: ok!i just want to say something about it. you know.these days between the two countries we have much unhappenese.everyday i hear from my classmate about event and many of them go to the street to have a demonstration.some even burnin the cars that made in japan!also many japanese shops closed.i am just confused.i am sorry !
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          Sep 15 2012: Ok Chen. thanks for explaining a little better.

          All I will say, however this debate should end between the two countries, try and keep an open mind to the fact that some people care, other people dont. The population of Japan is made up of individuals, just like anywhere else. I hope you can find dislike for the situation, rather than a nation